Building Community, Identifying with Israel
During the course of Jewish history, community frameworks have proven to be an essential component of the continued existence of the Jewish people. MACHANAIM – Russian-Jewish Education Network builds on and creates such frameworks for Russian-speaking Israelis and their families. Members of these Supportive Community centers have the opportunity to learn and experience Jewish-Israeli culture, values and tradition.
THE SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITIES are aimed to be the base from which the participants can grow and develop as full and committed citizens of the State of Israel. The project encourages Russian-speaking Israelis to form a strong Jewish-Israeli identity, develop a sense of belonging, infuse their life in Israel with meaning and thus increase the motivation to contribute to their own community and the entire Israeli society.
At this stage, there are four community centers running in the framework of the project: the veteran and first of its kind community "Maaleh Machanaim" in Maaleh Adumim, "Machanaim-Esh David" in Ashdod, "Nitzoz Machanaim" in Karmiel and "Lev Hashomron Machanaim" in Ariel.
|Members of Maale Adumim Community oan a tour at Masasda, Feb. 2012|
The offered activities include:
Classes on Judaism, Israeli history and current events
Preparatory groups for Bar/Bat-Mitzva
Experiential and learning workshops (music, theater, cooking, etc.)
Pre-army preparation groups for youth
Kabbalat Shabbat, Holiday celebrations and workshops
Educational tours and Shabbat seminars
Cultural events (concerts, performances, shows etc.)
Beit-Midrash, Theater-Midrash, Tana"ch Theater
Jewish life cycle events (weddings, Bar/Bat-Mitzva, mourning services etc.)
Conversion preparatory courses and ongoing support for converts and their families
In each community the activities are run by coordinators who undergo special training at Machanaim.
|Hachnasat Sefer Torah in Ashdod Community, Jan. 2012
PARTNER ORGANISATIONS/PROJECT'S SUPPORTERS
The project was initiated thanks to the generous support of Cyril Stein z"l, whose family and friends are continuing to carry on the project and its vision. The project's initiation was also supported by the UJA Federation of NY, Avi Chai Foundation, Jewish Funders Network and Tmura Fund in the framework of "Pseifas" Initiative.
In the second year, the Ministry of Absorption became an essential partner in implementing the project through matching donors' contributions. In addition, the Genesis Philanthropic Group is committed to partial funding for the project.
Machanaim is continuously developing new partnerships with local authorities and organizations, such as Municipalities, Community Centers (JCC), youth movements etc., who are/will be involved in the programming and provide logistical and educational support in each community.
|Lecture on Purim in Carmiel, March 2012|
PERSPECTIVE FOR THE FUTURE
By the end of this year (2012) our goal is to expand the activities and open another community center. As well as the existing communities, the new one will be opened in a location with a significant percentage of Russian-speaking Israelis.
In addition, preparation and meetings are already in progress for the planning of future communities throughout Israel. Meetings with mayors, deputy mayors and other relevant authorities of various cities have already taken place in order to prepare the infrastructure for opening our activities there. Sites under consideration for the next stage of the project (second year) include Bat Yam, Beer-Sheva, Lod, Ashkelon, Arad and Nazareth-Elite.
The project is accompanied by an evaluation process and provides hard data and wide-ranging assessments, together with all partners' feedback. As the project progresses our aim is to create 1-2 new community centers each year. The model Machanaim has developed is replicable; once its impact is clear this model can be adopted by different groups of Russian speaking and even native Israelis. Furthermore, interest has also been expressed by other Jewish communities worldwide with large populations of Russian speaking Jews such as Russia, the USA and Germany.